Acupuncture, Nutraceutical Supplementation and More: Naturopathic Medicine Combats Shingles

Acupuncture, Nutraceutical Supplementation and More: Naturopathic Medicine Combats ShinglesShingles are an unexpected, unexplained outbreak of painful skin pustules that can develop on any part of the body, especially the trunk area. It has been found that these pustules are a result of the leftover chicken pox virus (varicella-zoster) which can lie dormant within nerve roots for decades.

Shingle outbreaks may be caused by excessive stress, injury, illness, old age or a suppressed immune system from taking certain prescription medication. It is not contagious however there have been cases of people contracting shingles from an infected person if they have never had chicken pox.

Conventional medicine approaches shingles by prescribing rash creams, anti-viral and pain medication and sometimes even anti-depressants as an attempt to immediately quell symptoms. Unfortunately these “remedies” simply  cover up the body’s attempt at using its own healing mechanisms. These healing mechanisms can, on the other hand, be stimulated by traditional medicine. Using a variety of naturopathic remedies including acupuncture, nutraceutical supplementation, clinical nutrition, homeopathy and botanical medicine the potential for a reduction of pain, duration and overall symptoms can be possible.

Shingles Symptoms
Presentation of shingles is often accompanied by a myriad of systemic clues. Most people do not associate these clues as symptoms of a pre-shingles outbreak. This is mostly due to the fact that it is often an eruption linked to a decades old bout with chicken pox. Therefore, most symptoms are ignored and when shingles appear there is usually great surprise and often panic. Paying attention to your body and tuning in to its subtle signs of not only a shingles outbreak but any health challenge on the precipice of becoming full blown is essential. A good naturopathic doctor can help you to look, listen and act on your body’s attempt to be heard.

Shingles symptoms could include the following:

  • Headache
  • Photo-sensitivity (sensitive to light)
  • Feeling of flu-like symptoms without a fever
  • Fever
  • Itching, tingling or pain in a specific location (often the trunk aka rib area)
  • Rash
  • Blisters

Studies Citing Acupuncture and Naturopathic Medicine for the Treatment of Shingles

An Italian study published entitled ‘Acupuncture for the treatment of severe acute pain in Herpes Zoster: results of a nested, open-label, randomized trial in the VZV [varicella-zoster virus] Pain Study’ concluded that, “This controlled and randomized trial provides the first evidence of a potential role of AC [acupuncture] for the treatment of acute herpetic pain.”

In another study, ‘Herpes Zoster and Postherpetic Neuralgia: Diagnosis and Therapeutic Considerations’ by ND Mario Roxas of Thorne Research, conventional shingle remedies are described as follows: “Antiviral agents, such as acyclovir, valacyclovir, and famciclovir, have been shown to reduce both the pain and healing time of skin lesions associated with HZ [herpes zoster], but have marginal success in preventing and treating PHN [post herpetic neuralgia]. Corticosteroids may be used for pain management in HZ, but do not seem to be effective in prevention of PHN.” For treatment, healing and prevention this study cites a variety of botanical remedies including topical use of capsaicin (pepper), licorice extract or Madonna lily bulb which have all shown progress that competes with or surpasses conventional choices. Other botanical considerations mentioned are: aloe vera; Sangre de Grado (Croton lechleri) a South American flowering plant; Bi Phaya Yaw (Clinacanthus nutans) derived from a Southeast Asian shrub; honey; propolis (from bees); and Reishi mushroom.

Clinical nutrition is the focused approach to eating medicinally. The group study, ‘Micronutrient intake and the risk of herpes zoster: a case–control study’ out of the United Kingdom looked at how diets low in micronutrients may affect shingles outbreaks. They concluded that, “A cocktail of nutrients such as those found in fruit and vegetables may act together, particularly in older individuals, to maintain immune health and prevent zoster.”

The Naturopathic Round Table
Successful treatment of shingles using naturopathic medicine is best when used as early as possible. If acupuncture can be administered during the initial clues (mentioned above) or beginning outbreak, chances of a more rapid recovery are good. Working on adjusting your diet with your naturopathic doctor is also recommended. It has been found that avoiding arginine-rich foods such as peanuts, almonds, corn, oats and chocolate can help as well as using homeopathy remedies like rhus toxicodendron, arsenicum album, apis mellifica or ranunculus bulbosus.

Self-Care for Shingles
By combining the tools that naturopathic medicine can offer through a highly trained naturopathic doctor for the treatment of shingles can be a choice that is beneficial in the long run. When the body is allowed to heal itself without having to struggle with the side effects associated with so many pharmaceutical ‘band-aid’ approaches rapid healing and extended prevention could happen. There are some at-home self-care approaches one can take until they are able to be assessed by their naturopathic doctor.

These include:

  • Keep the area clean with soap and water to prevent bacterial growth and infection.
  • Do not itch as this will surely cause infection.
  • Remain as stress-free as possible
  • Wear cotton gloves to bed to avoid itching in your sleep.
  • Use cool wet compresses which have been shown to alleviate itching better than over-the-counter calamine lotion. Use zinc-sulfate or Burow’s solution (aluminum acetate) with the compress.
  • Take a colloidal oatmeal bath which can be very soothing.
  • Cover the blisters at night.

Naturopathic medicine in conjunction with each individual’s ability to tune into their own body is essential in treating shingles. Rather than put your health into the hands of a ten minute doctor’s visit, a pill and some cream seek out a capable naturopathic doctor to guide, educate and encourage you through your shingles challenge. At Integrative Med Solutions, we will design an acupuncture and naturopathic treatment program that works for you. In many cases, insurance covers portions of the acupuncture treatment. Allow us to support you to achieve optimal health.  To make an appointment or find out more about how acupuncture and naturopathic medicine can benefit you, please call our office at 914.337.2980 or CLICK HERE to schedule an online appointment.

*Please CLICK HERE to see a current list of In-Network Insurance Companies for Acupuncture that we participate with as well as insurance companies that commonly have Out-of-Network benefits. Please call 914.337.2980 or securely email to verify your specific benefits. If you are emailing, please include your full name, date of birth and insurance identification card number.

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